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Pathfinder #050: Night of Frozen Shadows» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Ninjas versus Vikings! rss

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Merric Blackman
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The Jade Regent adventure path tells the story of Ameiko, lost heir to the Minkai Empire, and her travels to regain her birthright. The players take the roles of her companions as they overcome the challenges that stand between her and the throne. They are opposed by the current holders of the Empire – the Five Storms, a group of Oni who just need to destroy the last heirs of the Amatatsu family to rule the Empire forever.

After the events of The Brinewall Legacy, where Ameiko and the PCs became aware of their destiny, Night of Frozen Shadows takes the characters to the Viking city of Kalsgard, where they need to find a guide over the frozen polar wastes to Minkai, and, perhaps more importantly, recover the ancestral sword of the Amatatsu.

The adventure covers (very briefly) the journey to Kalsgard, and then – in more detail – the challenges faced by the group as they attempt to find the guide and the sword, which, in a memorable scene, takes them aboard a Viking funeral boat as it is burnt, fighting undead and assassins. Eventually, they should discover the stronghold of the Five Storms in Kalsgard, and from there recover the sword and the guide they need.

Unfortunately, whilst there are a lot of good encounters in the adventure, its structure seems forced and nonsensical. Of particular note is this: the leader of the Five Storms in Kalsgard is aware from the very beginning of the adventure as to who the heroes are, due to a shape-shifting raven spy in the first encounter of the piece. However, once the group reaches Kalsgard, that knowledge is ignored, and the PCs must draw attention to themselves before their foes strike again. Given the leader is described as incredibly committed to her task – she’s waited at least 25 years here, even after probably destroying all the Amatatsu family in the attack on Brinewall – it seems unbelievably stupid that she’d not act on this information.

Other plot strands are likewise incredible: she’s managed to manoeuvre all the possible guides into already having jobs (despite it being the off-season), except for one, who she’s kidnapped and not killed. There’s a chance of her kidnapping Ameiko in the adventure as well… and she doesn’t kill her either. And, as for the sword, upon finding she couldn’t destroy it, she tossed it down a oubliette.

Ultimately this all works to diminish the threat posed by the Five Storms. It is entirely conceivable that the Five Storms to destroy the party with the forces they have on hand, and no reason that they wouldn’t use them. Of course, it’d be an extremely short and deadly adventure if that happened. Ultimately, the basis of the adventure is flawed, and though players will probably enjoy it, it doesn’t bear much thinking about why everything happens the way it does.

The NPCs accompanying the party are barely mentioned in the text; the DM will need to do a lot of work to make them memorable. In this adventure, they’re meant to stay behind with the caravan when the PCs go off adventuring and looking for a guide, even when it doesn’t really make much sense for them to do so. The caravan rules barely get a look in here, but as we’ll see a lot more of them in the next adventure, I don’t mind that so much.

There are opportunities for role-playing, problem solving and dungeon delving in the adventure. The climax of the adventure – the fortress of the Five Storms – is very large, with 41 encounter areas (of which 20 have monsters). Personally, I think it’s just too big, with the momentum of the adventure being lost therein, but such is the way of Adventure Paths when they’ve got to end up at a certain level. It’s not a flaw alone to Paizo’s adventures – Wizards are extremely prone to it as well.

Ultimately, despite it containing a lot of good things, I’m quite dissatisfied by this adventure due to the improbabilities of the plot.
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Ray Pascalis
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Thanks! Excellent review. My gaming group is really interested in this Adventure Path but I'm having problem keeping the flame alive. We will soon find ourselves playing Night of Frozen Shadows and the following modules. Any thoughts about The Hungry Storm?? And Forest of Spirits?? I just got mine but I hear they have similar problems.
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Merric Blackman
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I'll get to reviewing them soon, but briefly:

Hungry Storm is the big caravan adventure, but unfortunately Paizo got the maths utterly wrong and the caravan rules are unusable at that level. It also has a caravan travelling during the polar night at 32 miles per hour over the frozen wastes. Magic must be involved...

Forest of Spirits has the group finally arrive in Minkai... and the Five Storms aren't waiting for them. There's actually a line in the previous adventure saying, "if they take their time, the Five Storms might think they're dead." I'm sorry? This is the same group that left an agent in place for 25 years just in case their attack on Brinewall had left a survivor? It's hard to credit.

Despite these flaws, the adventures seem fine enough with some nice encounters, but I'll get to a deeper overview in the next couple of weeks.

Cheers,
Merric
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Ray Pascalis
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Thanks Merric. I'll keep an eye open for those reviews. I haven't tried many adventure paths. Just Runelords and this one. So far this isn't that bad, it just requires a lot of extra work. The idea of Vikings and Ninjas really got me interested as a game setting. I would like to have your thoughts about Pathfinder modules and Adventure Paths. Reviews are very hard to find.
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